Trump impeachment calls snowball, putting pressure on Pelosi

Democratic calls for impeaching President TrumpDonald John TrumpPelosi arrives in Jordan with bipartisan congressional delegation Trump says his Doral resort will no longer host G-7 after backlash CNN's Anderson Cooper mocks WH press secretary over Fox News interview MORE snowballed on Tuesday, lending enormous new momentum to efforts to oust the president and posing the toughest test yet for Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi arrives in Jordan with bipartisan congressional delegation Trump says his Doral resort will no longer host G-7 after backlash Scrap House defense authorization provision benefitting Russia MORE (D-Calif.) and other party leaders grappling with the potential repercussions.

The list of new impeachment supporters spans the ideological spectrum, including liberal holdouts, vulnerable centrists, committee chairs and party icons like Rep. John LewisJohn LewisThe 13 House Democrats who back Kavanaugh's impeachment Detroit police chief calls Tlaib facial recognization idea 'racist' Ossoff raises 0k in first three weeks of Senate bid, campaign says MORE (D-Ga.), who endorsed the process Tuesday afternoon in a fiery speech on the House floor.

ADVERTISEMENT

"The future of our democracy is at stake," Lewis said. "There comes a time when you have to be moved by the spirit of history to take action to protect and preserve the integrity of our nation."

Pelosi and her leadership team have long rejected the idea of impeaching Trump, wary of the potential blowback against vulnerable centrists at the polls next year.

But recent allegations that Trump pressed a foreign leader to investigate a political rival have sparked an uproar within the Democratic Caucus, leading dozens of lawmakers to jump on the impeachment bandwagon in the last 24 hours alone.

Against that backdrop, Pelosi will huddle Tuesday afternoon with the six committee chairs investigating allegations of wrongdoing against Trump, while a separate meeting of the full Democratic Caucus — unusual ahead of the week's votes — is scheduled for 4 p.m.

“The Constitution gives Congress the responsibility to rein in a lawless President,” Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesLawmakers from both sides of the aisle mourn Cummings House chairman: Pompeo not complying with impeachment inquiry Sunday shows - Second whistleblower grabs spotlight MORE (N.Y.), chairman of the Democratic Caucus, tweeted Tuesday, announcing the 4 p.m. meeting. “We will do our job #ImpeachmentInvestigation.”

Many Democrats now want to go beyond the ongoing investigative strategy long favored by Pelosi and other top leaders.

New reports that Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenCNN's Anderson Cooper mocks WH press secretary over Fox News interview Yang cautions Democrats: Impeachment might not be 'successful' Ocasio-Cortez: Sanders' heart attack was a 'gut check' moment MORE and his son, Hunter Biden, have supercharged the impeachment push, with a number of moderate lawmakers suddenly changing their tune.

Some of those centrists, like Rep. Antonio DelgadoAntonio Ramon DelgadoProgressive Latino group launches first incumbent protection campaign Trump impeachment battle hits TV ads Pelosi-backed group funding ads for vulnerable Democrats amid impeachment inquiry MORE (D-N.Y.), are now supporting votes on articles of impeachment. A larger group of moderates haven't gone so far, but they're threatening to endorse impeachment in some form if Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, refuses to release a whistleblower report related to Trump's conversation with Zelensky when Maguire appears before the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday.

Seven Democratic freshmen with either military or national security backgrounds wrote a Washington Post op-ed on Monday warning that the Ukraine episode may be their breaking point on impeachment.

"If these allegations are true, we believe these actions represent an impeachable offense," the lawmakers wrote.

The group consisted of Reps. Gil CisnerosGilbert (Gil) Ray CisnerosMORE (Calif.), Jason CrowJason CrowCongress set for showdown with Trump over Kurds Bipartisan lawmakers who visited Syrian border slam Trump's 'rash decision' Trump impeachment calls snowball, putting pressure on Pelosi MORE (Colo.), Chrissy Houlahan (Pa.), Elaine LuriaElaine Goodman LuriaPelosi-backed group funding ads for vulnerable Democrats amid impeachment inquiry Mass shootings have hit 158 House districts so far this year CNN faces backlash for video highlighting white congresswomen as impeachment leaders MORE (Va.), Mikie SherrillRebecca (Mikie) Michelle SherrillHouse Dems introduce bill to fight social media disinformation CNN faces backlash for video highlighting white congresswomen as impeachment leaders GOP ratchets up 2020 attacks as impeachment storm grows MORE (N.J.), Elissa SlotkinElissa SlotkinHouse Dems introduce bill to fight social media disinformation Polls flash warning signs for Trump on impeachment Pelosi-backed group funding ads for vulnerable Democrats amid impeachment inquiry MORE (Mich.) and Abigail SpanbergerAbigail Davis SpanbergerHouse Dems introduce bill to fight social media disinformation Bipartisan lawmakers who visited Syrian border slam Trump's 'rash decision' Pelosi-backed group funding ads for vulnerable Democrats amid impeachment inquiry MORE (Va.).

Several other freshmen also representing battleground districts adopted a similar position this week, including Reps. Dean PhillipsDean PhillipsDemocrats eye Pompeo testimony The Hill's Morning Report - Dems to hit gas on impeachment Democrats take Trump impeachment case to voters MORE (D-Minn.), Angie Craig (D-Minn.), Colin Allred (D-Texas), Lizzie Fletcher (D-Texas) and Haley StevensHaley Maria StevensPelosi-backed group funding ads for vulnerable Democrats amid impeachment inquiry Trump impeachment calls snowball, putting pressure on Pelosi Pro-Trump Republican immigrant to challenge Dem lawmaker who flipped Michigan seat MORE (D-Mich.).

There are other signs of impeachment momentum, too.

A number of Democrats who had previously supported an impeachment inquiry, for instance, are now calling for articles to be drafted — a stark escalation of the process intended to oust the president. That list includes Reps. Brad SchneiderBradley (Brad) Scott SchneiderHouse Democrat pushes back against concerns that impeachment inquiry could spark political backlash Dem Congressman discusses plan to keep the house blue The Hill's Morning Report - New impeachment battle: Pompeo vs. House Dems MORE (D-Ill.), Betty McCollumBetty Louise McCollumDeLauro enters race to succeed Lowey as Appropriations chief Trump impeachment calls snowball, putting pressure on Pelosi Leave park operations — and fee revenues — to the parks MORE (D-Minn.), Veronica EscobarVeronica EscobarLawmakers from both sides of the aisle mourn Cummings Lawmakers, social media users praise photo of Pelosi confronting Trump Hispanic voters push campaigns to address gun violence MORE (D-Texas) and David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineHillicon Valley: GOP lawmakers offer election security measure | FTC Dem worries government is 'captured' by Big Tech | Lawmakers condemn Apple over Hong Kong censorship FTC Democrat raises concerns that government is 'captured' by large tech companies Democrats want Mulvaney to testify in Trump impeachment probe MORE (R.I.), who heads the Democrats’ messaging arm.

“President Trump’s actions to pressure a foreign government into investigating a political rival are an absolute abuse of the powers of the presidency, and this flagrant corruption demands an urgent response from Congress,” Schneider said Tuesday in a statement.

The growing support for impeachment poses a test for Pelosi, the political pragmatist who views the 2020 elections as the Democrats’ best chance at removing Trump and doesn't want to risk a political backlash that could benefit Republicans at the polls. With that in mind, Pelosi has long rejected impeaching Trump, pointing to the lack of support from both voters and congressional Republicans, who control the Senate.

On Sunday, Pelosi sent a warning shot to the White House ahead of Thursday's Intelligence hearing.

“If the Administration persists in blocking this whistleblower from disclosing to Congress a serious possible breach of constitutional duties by the President, they will be entering a grave new chapter of lawlessness which will take us into a whole new stage of investigation,” she wrote in a letter to House Democrats.

But Pelosi avoided any mention of the “I-word.” And some party operatives are predicting she won't endorse the shift to impeachment without a stark shift in public support.

Trump, meanwhile, has forcefully denied reports that he leveraged U.S. military aid to compel Zelensky to investigate Biden, while also suggesting it would have been well within his powers to have done so.

“I put no pressure on them whatsoever. I could have. I think it would probably, possibly have been OK if I did. But I didn't. I didn't put any pressure on them whatsoever,” Trump said Monday.

He doubled down Tuesday morning, saying the Democrats' push for impeachment is politically motivated “nonsense.”

“I think it’s ridiculous. It’s a witch hunt. I’m leading in the polls,” Trump said as he arrived at the United Nations annual summit in New York. “They have no idea how they stop me, the only way they can try is through impeachment.”

Some Democrats have floated a proposal to create a special committee to investigate Trump's dealings with Ukraine. The idea was quickly panned by liberal impeachment supporters, however, who warned that it would only delay a process served best by the Judiciary Committee.

“This is an emergency. We don’t have the luxury of time w/ another committee,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez: Sanders' heart attack was a 'gut check' moment Ocasio-Cortez tweets endorsement of Sanders Ocasio-Cortez throws support to Sanders at Queens rally MORE (D-N.Y.) tweeted Tuesday.

“Judiciary has been investigating& putting the pieces together for months,” she added. “Impeachment belongs there."